An epidemic in Kano - Football fever
I am truly happy for the Kano Pillars After years of serving notice that they were on the cusp of returning to the glory days and form displayed by the likes of the Bees and Rovers decades ago, they finally won the League in 2008. Then there also was the amazing Semis run in the Caf Champions League in 2009 and then came the sputter after which they virtually went away. I wont even mention the first round exit in the same ACL in 2011.
Well they are now back and have undoubtedly etched what many faintly suspected, in stone this season. Just in case you didn't notice they arc now currently ranked as one of the Leagues top three teams.
Deservedly so if you ask me.
On and off the field they continue to push the envelope and remain in addition to being among the top 3 also the NPL’s most popular team. Be it deep in Igboland in the East or say within the predominantly Yoruba neighbourhood of Ebute Metta in Lagos, one see’s the Yellow and Green shirt of Pillars more than that of any other African Club - period. That's saying alot considering that the team plays in an area when things go ‘boom’ almost daily.
Thank God the only explosions the team has had to deal with so far are one’s like the bomb Ali unleashed against Rising Stars in their 2-1 win on Wednesday. And then there is also the pleasant matter in the explosion of attendance.
Unlike in the rest of Nigeria’s top flight where fans stay away and continue a fanatic love affair with the leagues of Europe, on Sunday they trove to the Sani Abacha stadium by the thousand. It’s a bazaar like affair reminiscent of the old Nigerian league at her zenith in the 70’s and 80’s. You know like you would see in places like in Idadan, Benin or Enugu when their teams played crackers at home.
In Kano they also start early. Having said their prayers on Friday match day actually starts in the wee hours of the morning with a slew of Club sponsored activities as well as Community outreach programs. There is Yogurt - cold and hot -, spicy kebabs called Suya as well as a zillion other finger foods and fruits to nibble on as kick-off approaches.
Money wise Pillars have been more than fair and have restructured their bonus incentive to be among the most attractive in the NPL. No surprise then that they have lost only one defender in the transfer market while keeping their old team intact. They now boast of a squad that plays coherently with no true Super Stars. This also speaks for the character of players like Mohammed and Ali who could probably have been prima donnas elsewhere.
Granted while the race is far from done in the NPL and Pillars will certainly have their hands full with challenges from Aba, Enugu and maybe even Akure, Port Harcourt and Warri, all the pundits now agree that Kano will now certainly play a big role in the final putsch as to determine who the best team in Nigeria will be.
We will be here watching, wishing them the best and praying that whatever it is that has caught on in Kano now infects the rest of Nigeria severely and hopefully quickly as well.